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Jeff Melanson

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Jeff Melanson is a Canadian business executive who has spent the last 15 years working in the Canadian fine arts community and public sector. Throughout his career, Jeff has worked diligently to enhance and build stronger, more vibrant communities. Utilizing his creative entrepreneurship expertise, he works to promote an appreciation and awareness of the arts both in his professional life and in his personal.

Most recently, Jeff served as the President and CEO of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO), a Canadian cultural institution that dates back to 1922. Currently at home in downtown Toronto’s Roy Thomson Concert Hall, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has performed around the world and serves as Canadian cultural ambassadors, promoting global unity through music participation and appreciation.

As President and CEO of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Jeff played a vital role in increasing the organization’s attendance and patronage to well over 250,000. He also spearheaded an awareness campaign aimed at educating a new generation about the beauty and importance of live symphony orchestras.

Jeff’s commitment resulted in 23,000 first-time attendees during the 2015-16 TSO season, which represented a significant increase. His ability to bring fresh ideas to the table also resulted in 44 sold out shows during the 2015-16 season.

Jeff’s creative entrepreneurship skills also inspired him to bring the Toronto Symphony Orchestra to a wider audience through radio. The Sunday Night with TSO local radio show, which is number 1 in its time slot, boasts more than 43,000 listeners weekly and is instrumental in raising interest in classical music.

Before coming to Toronto, Jeff resided in Banff, Alberta where he served as President of The Banff Centre, the world’s largest creativity incubator for local, national and international artists.

The Banff Centre serves an extensive pool of 4,000 artists, 2,000 mathematicians, 2,000 business leaders and over 20,000 conference participants from around the globe.

Part of Jeff’s duties at The Banff Centre included the administration and oversight of the $60 million annual operating budget. He also managed the centre’s staff of more than 574 full-time employees. During his time at The Banff Centre, Jeff also facilitated and implemented the establishment of the Peter Lougheed Leadership Institute.

Jeff’s longstanding professional career in the Canadian fine arts community began in the late 90s, shortly after he earned his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. Prior to that, Jeff studied music at the University of Manitoba, earning his Bachelors of Music degree in 1997.

Following the completion of his education, Jeff served as the Assistant Dean and then Dean at The Royal Conservatory of Music’s Community School in downtown Toronto. While there, he was responsible for strategic planning, corporate fundraising, business development, co-ordination of academic programming, curriculum development, financial planning, and faculty performance reviews.

After leaving The Royal Conservatory of Music in late 2006, Jeff stayed in Toronto and went on to serve as Executive Director of The National Ballet School where he was charged with managing the school’s annual budget of $22 million and overseeing a range of administrative initiatives.

Companies and Investments

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra The Banff Centre The Royal Conservatory of Music The National Ballet School

Lessons Learned

I’ve spoken previously on the idea of starting from the assumption that you might be completely wrong. In the arts and in many other industries and disciplines, we are often very sensitive and sometimes protective about how we approach problems and our methods in understanding and solving them. But, I think oftentimes we can be more effective in what we do, if we take a step back and reevaluate some of our fundamental assumptions. It’s a reflective process that is valuable in running cultural organizations and it’s something that translates to entrepreneurial ambitions.

Don’t forget the broad power of the arts and creativity in general. We are all artists, but oftentimes people lose sight of their own creative potential that they were born with. For aspiring entrepreneurs, always stay in touch with that creative power and strive to look at the world and your business relationships from new perspectives.

Inspiring Quotes

Jeff Melanson's Quotes

The role of the creative sector is to awaken the creative potential in everyone.

Jeff Melanson

Influential Books

Malcolm Gladwell - Outliers: The Story of Success

Tom Kelley - The Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEO's Strategies for Defeating the Devil's Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization

E. F. Schumacher - Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered